Karl Fischer Titration by ASTM D6304 Offered by Eurofins TestOil

Water contamination is detrimental to any lubricant. If a crackle test is positive, further testing is needed to quantify the amount of water by using the Karl Fischer Water titration by ASTM D6304.  

Water can enter a system through seals, breathers, hatches, contaminated top-off oil and fill caps. Internal leaks from heat exchangers and water jackets are other potential sources. Low levels of water (<0.2%) are typically the result of condensation. Higher levels can indicate a source of water ingress.

Water in any form will cause accelerated wear, increased friction, and high operating temperatures. Non-emulsified water poses a serious threat to the equipment, leading to rust and corrosion. Emulsified water will promote oil oxidation and reduce its load handling ability. If left unchecked, water in any form will lead to premature machine failure.

Eurofins TestOil Analyst/Field Technician Matt McMahon says, “Water causes damage to the machine by corrosion and also mechanical issues arising from a change in lubricant properties. Water tends to shorten lubricant life. Machines that are in the vicinity of water and machines that have water as part of operating conditions such as steam turbines are especially vulnerable.”

The Karl Fischer titration test (ASTM D6304) quantifies dissolved, emulsified and free water and is accurate to 0.001%. The test involves placing a sealed vial in a temperature-controlled oven. The vial is pierced with a needle through which the water vapor travels to a titration vessel. Only water is evaporated while the oil sample remains in the vial to eliminate interference and contamination. Water content is determined by a reaction with iodine. The titration endpoint is reached when the instrument detects unreacted iodine. Results are reported as either percent water or parts-per-million (ppm).

Matt explains that the Karl Fischer test is accurate as long as the sample is pulled from a representative location. “Ideally you want to obtain the sample from an active area, but there may be no choice,” he says. “The best location varies from machine to machine. This is one of the areas where it’s a good idea to ask Eurofins TestOil for advice.”

The Karl Fischer test is included in Eurofins TestOil’s standard test slate. If indicated, we may recommend additional tests such as elemental spectroscopy, FTIR spectroscopy, viscosity and/or particle count.

Who was Karl Fischer?

Joseph Karl Anton Fischer was a German chemist born near Munich in 1901. He devised this system of determining trace water content in anything and everything-from oil to German pastries.  It is not clear how he became interested in analytical chemistry, but water was just as much of a problem in the oil industry back then as it is now. Dr. Fischer studied at the University of Leipzig and was awarded a Ph.D. in 1925. In a 1937 paper, he proposed a surprisingly simple titration using a standard solution of iodine, sulfur dioxide, and pyridine; where the end point was indicated by the persistence of iodine. Neither Dr. Fischer nor his company took out a patent and the method entered the public domain. Although the stoichiometry would be revised two years later, the test was widely adopted and remains so today.

For more information on working with Eurofins TestOil for oil analysis and training visit www.testoil.com. Contact: 216-251-2510; sales@testoil.com.

About Eurofins TestOil

With more than 30 years of experience in the oil analysis industry, Eurofins TestOil focuses exclusively on assisting industrial facilities with reducing maintenance costs and avoiding unexpected downtime through oil analysis program implementation. As industry experts in diagnosing oil-related issues in equipment such as turbines, hydraulics, gearboxes, pumps, compressors and diesel generators, Eurofins TestOil provides customers with same-day turnaround on routine oil analysis testing.  For more information on partnering with Eurofins TestOil on oil analysis programs or training opportunities visit https://testoil.com. Contact: Michael Barrett 216-251-2510; sales@testoil.com

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Eurofins is Testing for Life. Eurofins is the global leader in food, environment, pharmaceutical and cosmetic product testing, and in discovery pharmacology, forensics, advanced material sciences and agroscience Contract Research services. Eurofins is also a market leader in certain testing and laboratory services for genomics, and in the support of clinical studies, as well as in BioPharma Contract Development and Manufacturing. The Group also has a rapidly developing presence in highly specialised and molecular clinical diagnostic testing and in-vitro diagnostic products.

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